LAS VEGAS: US analytics firm SAS is undergoing a digital transformation led by leaders from IT, marketing and legal.
The privately-owned company, which turned 40 this year, is restructuring its subsidiaries, providing an opportunity to recreate all business processes from a global customer perspective, according to SAS CIO Keith Collins.
Collins told V3 at SAS Global Forum in Las Vegas that the idea behind digital transformation at SAS is to make the customer experience "frictionless".
"We're digitising and rethinking all of our processes: how we get in touch with the customer, how we change our back-office processes to make them more seamless and how we service the customer," he said.
"The customer should be able to get in touch with us any way they want to, and once they decide they want our software, they should be able to get it, deploy it easily, do a proof-of-concept, buy it, go to production, get services from us, get tech support from us. And we need to know every part of this lifecycle."
Many companies are hiring chief digital officers to lead digital transformation in their organisations, but Collins believes that SAS didn't need to do this because the firm already had a leadership team well equipped in IT, marketing and legal to lead this initiative.
"The three execs who are driving that transformation are Berni Mobley, senior VP of IT, Adele Sweetwood, senior VP of marketing and support, and Patricia Brown, VP and general counsel of global IP and corporate affairs," Collins said.
"These are our three sponsors and nothing happens in digital transformation without them. It isn't about marketing's budget or my budget. All of the budget does flow through me, but nobody says: ‘We're going to do this' without everybody agreeing."
Mobley reports to Collins, while Sweedwood reports to SAS chief marketing officer Randy Guard and Brown reports to chief legal officer John Boswell.
It is common for marketing and IT to drive a digital transformation initiative, but the legal team is not usually involved.
"It is interesting as you wouldn't normally hear [of legal being involved] but we're rethinking our whole contracts approach: how the contracts work, how we work globally, how we make click-through licences happen. So a lot of what we're doing in terms of engaging customers has to do with contract purposes," Collins explained.
He suggested that involving the legal team does not apply only to technology vendors undergoing digital transformation.
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